Stéphane San Juan Drummer, percussionist, band leader, singer-composer, producer and educator.
Stéphane comes from a rich cultural background that set the backdrop for his
multi- cultural path in music, his father, of Spanish descent, was born and raised
in Algeria and his mother of German-Italian background, was born in Vietnam
then raised in Madagascar. Stéphane grew up in Montpellier, France. He began
his career as a drummer/ percussionist with local bands like Black and White
Gospel Singers, General Alcazar and Zwap.
In 1995 Stéphane made London his permanent home, where he played with
artists such as ANDY SHEPPARD, SIBONGILE KHUMALO and TYRONE DOWNIE. Meanwhile in Paris
joined the band of Malian duo AMADOU ET MARIAM, whom he recorded
and toured with from 1997 until 2004, including on their successful album
“Dimanche a Bamako” produced by MANU CHAO.
In the year 2000 Stéphane met KASSIN, MORENO VELOSO, DOMENICO
LANCELLOTTI who he later joined in the band the +2’s (Luaka Bop).
Stéphane relocated to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2002 where he became a
member of the gafieira Big Band, ORQUESTRA IMPERIAL, also formed the
band OS RITMISTAS with DANY ROLAND and Domenico and most recently
In Brazil, he has worked with many brazilian artists like
ADRIANA CALCANHOTTO, ARLINDO CRUZ, BEBEL GILBERTO,
CAETANO VELOSO, ELZA SOARES, ERASMO CARLOS, JOAO
DONATO, JORGE MAUTNER, MARCOS VALLE, MARIA GADU,
MARTN’ALIA, SEU JORGE, TULIPA RUIZ, VANESSA DA MATA,
WILSON DAS NEVES, ZE MANOEL, with arrangers like ALBERTO
CONTINENTINO, ARTHUR VEROCAI, EUMIR DEODATO and international artists like BERNARD PURDIE, GILLES PETERSON, JEAN-CLAUDE VANNIER, JOSE GONZALES, MANU DIBANGO and ON FILLMORE (DARIN GRAY & GLENN KOTCHE).
In 2009 he created and directed the “Gainsbourg Imperial” project at Sesc
Pinheiros theater (São Paulo), for the year of France in Brazil, arranged by
JEAN CLAUDE VANNIER, with special guests JANE BIRKIN and
CAETANO VELOSO; won the “Bravo Award” for best show in 2009. Also co-directed
the documentary which was nominated at FIPA 2010.
In 2014, Stéphane released his first solo project as a singer/ composer/ songwriter,
“Système de Son”. Recorded in Rio, London, and Montpellier; mixed by
MARIO CALDATO JR. and mastered by ROBERT CARRANZA in Los
Angeles. On the album, he collaborates with the likes of composers Alberto
Continentino, SEAN O HAGAN, GUSTAVO RUIZ, and his mentor WILSON
DAS NEVES. Released in Japan by Coreport label, the album got great reviews
in latin music and jazz magazines like Latina, Intoxicate and CD journal, and
also appeared on best album list 2014 including “Rolling Stone Brasil” and
The album release tour passed through cities like Rio de Janeiro ( Sergio Porto
and Oi Futuro Ipanema theaters), São Paulo (Sesc Pompeia and Sesc Campinas
theaters), Belo Horizonte (Marilia theater), Florianopolis (Celula Club), was
part of the Festival Francophonie 2015 program, Montreux Jazz Rio 2016
(Fasano) and the official program of Rio’s 2016 Olympics.
The repertoire includes originals from the album as well as new songs and
versions in french of samba songs like “O dia em que o Morro Descer e não for
Carnaval” (Paulo César Pinheiro/Wilson das Neves) and a portuguese version of
“Rue de Mes Souvenirs” (Stephane San Juan/Wilson das Neves) written by
CHICO BUARQUE DE HOLLANDA.
In 2017, Stéphane moved to New York where he toured with On Fillmore for the release of the album which he co-wrote “Happiness of Living” (Northern Spy Records) in prestigious festivals like WILCO’s Solid Sound, joined Bernard Purdie and Friends as a percussionist with whom he recorded the album “Cool Down” (Sugar Road Records), collaborates with YUKA HONDA (Beastie Boys, Cibo Matto) for the premiere of the show of art and haute cuisine Epicurean Nights, plays with ILHAN ERSAHIN (Istanbul Sessions) with whom he produced several solo concerts as well as Nublu Sessions with Ilhan on sax and bassist JOSH WERNER (Lee Scratch Perry, Robert Glasper, Wu Tang Clan), I led 3 Lives with JOONIE BOOTH (Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Sun-Ra) and African artists like YACOUBA SISSOKO (Harry Belafonte, Lauryn Hill) at Ilhan’s new club club, Nublu 151.
Stephane also produced Tulipa Ruiz’s “Tu” album (One Rpm) at SCOTTY HARD’s Studios, curated and directed “Multiplicidade”, the opening night show of the 2018 season of The National Sawdust, defined by the New York Times as the city’s most exciting new venue, inviting artists such as JEFFREY ZIEGLER (John Zorn, Kronos Quartet), MAGOS HERRERA, MAURO REFOSCO (Atoms for Peace, Red Hot Chilli Peppers), MELVIN GIBBS (Defunkt, Rollins Band), MICHAEL LEONHART (James Brown , Steely Dan), VITOR GONCALVES (Hermeto Pascoal) and VERNON REID (Living Color, Mick Jagger, Santana) to play a repertoire of songs by Abdullah Ibrahim, Mongo Santamaria, Tom Jobim and songs from Stephane’s new album “Saved by the Drums”.
Recorded in Rio and New York, mixed by Scotty Hard and mastered by Mike Fossenkemper in New York, “Saved by the Drums” features special guests GUTO WIRTTI, Jeffrey Ziegler, Michael Leonhart, ROGE, Ze Manoel and the late Wilson das Neves, his spiritual father to whom the album is dedicated. The LP is distributed worldwide by Silene Records and digitally by Buda Music.
In 2018 Stephane joined DAVID BYRNE ‘s world tour “American Utopia” which was qualified by NME “…The best live show of all times”.